The Social Movement as Meme

In an article for Open Democracy, Aaron Peters writes about how new social media is transforming the nature of protest and dissent in the 21st century. After explaining the concept of a Meme (a unit for transmitting ‘social behaviour, ideas, practices and mannerisms’), Peters looks at how new technology is speeding up the spread of ideas, tactics and strategies for the global movement via Memes:

With the #oct15 and #occupy movements, the tactics of square occupations have been memetically reproduced, as have a particular identity and antagonism.

While all groups are heterogeneous, there are clear genealogies of practice and symbol that can be extricated from Tahrir to the 15m movement in Spain to Occupy Wall Street and finally the #oct15 movement. Likewise we have seen certain memes in student movements across the globe.

This is the case in both demands over ‘another education being possible’ in Chile, France, Greece, Italy, the UK and the US (as well as elsewhere) and also in ‘tactics’, such as the paintbomb or book bloc, which has been reproduced rapidly on the streets of Rome, London, Santiago, Manchester, Bogota, San Francisco, Paris and Berlin. ‘Methods of best practice’ (for want of a better term) in protest and political contention are quickly disseminated in the distributed networks of the Network Society.

Visit Open Democracy to read the article in full.

For a detailed analysis of the relationship between new media and protest we strongly recommend @ is for Activism: Dissent, Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture, by Joss Hands.

@ is for Activism

Dissent, Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture

Joss Hands

Examines the transformation of politics through digital media, including digital television, online social networking and mobile computing.

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

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